Every generation has different views and outlooks on life. From generation to generation, the simplest topic can create opposite opinions.

For example, ripped jeans. While this fashion trend has become quite popular among younger generations, older generations may not understand why someone would intentionally wear pants with holes in them. This is just a small difference of opinion, but these varying viewpoints can create a divide.

In today’s society, it is common to be a part of, or even live with, a multigenerational family – typically, children, parents, and grandparents. McClellan Senior Living, located in Anniston, Alabama, knows the importance of close family relationships. While multigenerational family members are connected by love and support, it’s important to take the time to learn generational differences so that your family can connect on a deeper level.

What is a Generational Divide?

“Historical generations are not born; they are made. They are a device by which people conceptualize society and seek to transform it,” Robert Wohl, ‘The Generation of 1914.’

The way we think and act is influenced by the time period in which we grew up. The economy, current events, and generations that have come before us shape our outlook on society and life. According to BetterLYF, the “generation gap is a commonly known phenomenon where youngsters feel misunderstood by their parents [and] elders because of the difference in age group…It is the difference in social, emotional, and cultural beliefs and practices that naturally occurs between two or more subsequent generations.”

Ways to Bridge the Generational Divide

So, what can be done to close this generational gap and bring multigenerational families closer together?

Respect One Another

The first step is to find and maintain mutual respect. It is okay to have differing views and opinions, but you should never put one another down for holding these views.

Communicate with Each Other and Seek Understanding

A pillar of any relationship is communication. Without communicating, you and your family will never be able to understand one another fully. Talk about why you think the way you do. You may be surprised to find out that you have the same end goal, but there is more than one way of accomplishing it.

Accept Your Differences

If you and every member of your family were exactly the same, life would get boring. Having differences is what makes family dynamics interesting. Accept the differences between the members of your multigenerational family. There is more to each one of you than your thoughts on Facebook or politics.

Avoid Stereotyping

We all want to be viewed as unique individuals that contribute something different to the world, but when we are categorized by our age, this becomes near impossible. As human beings, we love to categorize. This helps us make sense of the world; however, “stereotyping people is [an] especially lazy and an especially dangerous form of categorization,” (Grahame Broadbelt, Global Head of Communication and R&D).

View and treat each member of your family as an individual. Do not put them in a box based on his or her birthdate.

Accommodate and Compromise

Within any family dynamic, there is bound to be differences and conflict. Try to accommodate each other and compromise when needed.

Put the Relationship First

First and foremost, closing the gap between the generations in your family should be the number one priority. This means putting the relationship first and above anything else.  Once you focus on building a strong bond between family members, the generational divides become less important.

Spend Quality Time Together

Spending time together is how a relationship forms naturally and can lead to understanding each other. The more time you and your family members spend bonding and getting to know one another, the closer you will become.

“Listen and learn from all generations…and try to understand who they are and why. You may find that we all want the same things, but have different ways of expressing it (relate.zendesk.com).”

Bridging generational divides takes time and effort, but strong, healthy relationships between family members are worth the work. Family is the most important thing, and while generational gaps can create tension, without them, family gatherings would get boring!

McClellan Senior Living, a retirement community in Anniston, Alabama, wants to help you, the senior in your life, and your family in every aspect of your lives. Visit our blog for additional tips and resources.

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